Statement by the Minister of Economic Affairs
of the Netherlands
Tunis, 17 November 2005
Mr. Chairman, Secretary-General, Heads of State and
Government, Honorable ministers, distinguished delegates,
ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of The Netherlands I would
like to thank the Tunisian Government for hosting this
These days we are discussing information and
communication technologies and the freedom to use them. ICT
is a fundamental element in our societies. The impact on
economic, social and democratic processes is enormous.
In our times ICT is the catalyst for development. ICT is
a means for development, not a goal in itself. In order to
fully exploit the development potential of ICT the
Netherlands considers an enabling environment of critical
importance. ICT should be an integral part of all national
policies and practices in order to be fully effective. This
varies from education to health, from libraries to
information literacy, and from agriculture to human rights.
ICT gives us unprecedented possibilities to close the
development gap and to create social innovation.
ICT has brought and will continue to bring about changes
to the social, technological and legal environment in which
our current human rights system matured. There are not only
benefits, we have to face the fact that ICT can also pose
threats to human rights.
To give an example. On the one hand the large scale use
of personal data has improved the efficiency of governments
and the private sector. On the other hand the misuse of ICT
could create serious problems for private life and private
Any use of ICT should respect the right to privacy.
Censorship could hamper the freedom of information and
expression. We as governments have the obligation to prevent
state and private censorship by means of effective legal and
practical measures, including international peer pressure.
Without pluralism of opinions and expressions, there is
no true ‘democratic information society’.
Mr. Chairman. The involvement of private sector and civil
society has contributed significantly to the success of the
World Summit on the Information Society. They have among
other things increased the awareness of important aspects of
the information society such as human rights, social and
In its relative short history the internet has become
critical for the economic, social and democratic development
of our societies. A failure of the internet could result in
an enormous chaos in public live. We have to make sure that
we have done everything to protect the proper functioning
and management of the internet.
Security and stability are key. Since Geneva all
stakeholders have engaged in reducing spam. We will have to
continue and increase our efforts. We have to fight
I very much welcome the creation of a new Forum on
The historic and very conscious role of the US as the
ultimate authority over some of the core resources of the
internet should be reviewed in the light of the enormous
growth of the internet and its use all over the world. We
must try to find the way which leads to a more shared
responsibility among all stakeholders. We need to arrive at
a situation which is future proof. Not by creating new
institutions, but by building on the existing structures in
such a way that it satisfies the legitimate concerns of all
stakeholders, including governments. Not one of the
stakeholders should dominate, but all stakeholders must
participate fully, according to their roles and
Here we agreed to make the first step to the enhanced
cooperation we all desire. And we have to prepare for the
next step. We have to do it now. I am too old to be patient.
Mr. Chairman. The follow-up and implementation of this
Summit are of crucial importance. At the international
level, the UN system has an important responsibility to
assist governments to stay fully engaged, but I should
emphasise that implementation is primarily a national
responsibility. Full participation of civil society and
private sector are of vital importance for the agreed
That is why we should also build on the achievements of
ICANN as an operational framework. Reinforcement of ICANN’s
governance requires a broader participation.
Implementation should be integrated and coordinated, as
part of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals. I therefore call upon the UN Secretary General to
actively pursue system-wide inter-agency coordination and
To conclude: the biggest achievement of this Summit is
that it has raised awareness amongst all stakeholders that
we face a number of challenging questions related to the
Information Society. Many of these questions demand an
coherent and concerted international approach.
Closing the digital divide, enhancing the cooperation in
internet governance, and creating an open and enabling
environment are our shared goals.
We need to move from principles to action. We need to do
this, not just for our future, but for the future of our
children and their children.